Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pictures!

Here's my little tiger from Halloween. Don't you just love his little tongue in the last picture!!
















Almost There!

On the days that we've both been home with Steven, we've been working with him on walking, and he is getting the hand of it! He's gone at least 4 steps before either falling down or reaching his destination. We might have a walker by Monday!

My temp. job is done now too. Yay! I didn't mind the work, and I'll definitely miss my new friends, but our house definitely reflects the fact that I've been working full time for the past month. A two week part of the project starts on Monday, and only 10-20 people were invited from our room (60ish). I was one of the ones invited, which was cool, but I had to turn it down because it requires 100% attendance, and I have too many doctors' appointments that we're trying to fit in before the baby comes/end of the year flex spending expires. It also would have been crazy since it would have finished just one week before the due date!

We had a nice time celebrating Thanksgiving with my family last night. Yep, Friday night. On Wednesday night my parents and sisters ordered in, and the girls got pizza and my dad had wings. My mom and sisters got horrible food poisoning, so we delayed Thanksgiving. I'm so glad that they're all feeling better again!

Steven thoroughly enjoyed his first Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed potatoes are one of his favorites, and he certainly didn't turn down the turkey, stuffing, and rolls either :) We got a few pictures of him feeding himself mashed potatoes (I wanted to eat too!), and once I find/look for the new memory stick adaptor, I'll post them.

We've had a lot of stuff going on the past few weeks, mainly with work or the adoption, and I am so glad to be "slowing down" a little since work is over. I've been busy sorting and washing girls clothes, and our pack and play in the living room is now filled almost to the top with clothes that were donated to us. We didn't get too much in the way of hand-me-downs for Steven, so this has been an amazing blessing. Thank you so much, Jessica and Lilly!

I'll try to do a better job of keeping this updated. There's nothing quite like a neglected blog :( I'll have another baby update Tuesday evening after Steven's birthmother and I go back to the hospital ultrasound. Please pray that baby girl's stomach is growing so they don't have to move up the due date. We truly do appreciate all your prayers as we go through this process!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Adoption Fundraiser

Dear Friends,

As you know, we're adopting Steven's full biological sister! A c-section is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 21, and we are busy getting all the necessary documents collected and turned in.

We weren't anticipating adopting again so soon, so we are scrambling to get the necessary funds together. We will be applying for grants as soon as our homestudy is approved, and we are also holding a magazine fundraiser.

This program allows you to renew or subcribe to your favorite magazines at a discounted rate with a 40% of your purchase going toward our adoption. I figured that just about everyone gets at least one magazine in the mail, so this is a relatively easy way to raise money. The site is www.magfundraising.com/markandrebekah.

If you have family or friends that might be interested, please forward this information along to them. We appreciate your prayers and support as we work to bring our baby girl home!

Sincerely,

Mark and Rebekah

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Poor Little Buddy

Today Steven had his first experience with the stomach bug :( He's never vomited before, and it wasn't exactly the most fun. At least he wasn't sick on his birthday.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yay!!

Happy birthday, little buddy!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yet Another Adoption Update

I know, it seems like the only time I update anymore is to give you info. about our baby girl's adoption. Working full time is killing me, and by the time I get home, I'm almost too tired to move :( Reading and scoring 200+ essays a day can do that to you!

This week we accomplished the following:

1. Got both of our physicals.
2. Passed our TB tests.
3. Got our blood tests and drug screening, waiting for the results.
4. Took Josie to the vet. (At least I think that was this week!)
5. Got Mark's employee release form submitted so Bethany can verify that he really does have a job.
6. FINALLY got our adoption verification letter (for Steven's adoption) sent from Bethany to Mark's employer. Our $5,000 reimbursement check is on it's way. We'll be using that to pay off his adoption/pay application fees for this one. (Definitely not getting rich off of this!)
7. Took the birthmother to her doctor's appointment yesterday. (More details to follow in another post.)

Things we still need to accomplish:

1. Submit the rest of the paperwork. We need to revise our statement of faith (to reflect new church/ministries we're involved in), and I need to finish my self-study. We really want this in the mail by Monday, so I'm praying that I'll feel up to completing it this weekend.
2. Drop off Josie's sample at the vets. It's not essential for the adoption, but we already paid for it, and it just needs to be done.
3. Get grant applications ready. Maybe I'll be able to do this next Saturday since I don't work then. I hope!

Could that possibly be it?? I sure hope so! I'll still have plenty of other stuff to do, such as update the identical scrapbooks that I make for Steven's birthmother and for us. I also need to get working on baby girl's books. This time I have ultrasound pictures to put in it. That is so exciting!!

Our other big thing is to get ready for Steven turning the big 01! Yep, that's tomorrow!! (It's also the day of THE game!) It feels much longer than a year, and we didn't even bring him home until Dec. 17th :)

Someday, I really will post pictures again. We have a new camera, and I don't have the memory card adapter in a highly accessible place (aka I don't know exactly where it is and don't have time to search for it). Someday soon. . .maybe when my temp. job is over.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two Posts in Two Days!

I'm up at school right now, sitting in my little office waiting to see if any students decide to actually show up for their appointments. This Fall, it's been insanely busy, and I usually end up staying late (on my own time).

Today, though, I've only worked with one student. I'm not used to this kind of down time anymore, but trust me, I'm not complaining!

I've been working on cleaning out my e-mail a bit. I feel too drained to respond to anyone right now (sorry everyone!), but I did get to go through and read my Baby Center and AdoptionWeek newsletters.

I spent quite a bit of time on several adoption sites, including a birth mothers' forum. It's interesting and enlightening to read their thoughts and concerns. I also spent time reading postings on the adoptive parents' forum, and I'm not sure if I've ever been on the adoptees' forum, but I'll have to do that at some point.

Adopting a child is a huge resposibility, even more than raising a biological child. (Don't think I'm saying that raising any child is easy--I know better than that!)

With Steven, and soon with his baby sister, I have so many extra things to consider. What do I tell them about their birthmother? How do I tell them? How do I raise them to be strong black children when the majority of our little world is white? What can I do to change that? How do I respond to other people's reactions?

I could choose to ignore all these things and live life "color blind," but I won't. I certainly don't have answers to all these questions, and I'm not even sure how I got here :) Don't worry, I'll address these sometime in the future, and several of them I've addressed in the past.

My intent for this post is to raise more awareness about the words we use and the connotations they have.

There are certain terms that have been used for years, ones that I've used in the past too. However, as I've researched this out, I've become much more aware of my word choice and have changed what I say accordingly.

The majority of the people who say these things do so because it's what they've always heard, not because they are being derogatory or demeaning. Don't think I'm sitting here thinking of anyone specifically when I'm saying this!

There are two terms/phrases that really bother me and they are "real or natural parents" and "gave up or gave away."

Steven doesn't have both real and fake parents--he instead has two set of parents. One set is his biological (or first) parents. The other set is his adoptive parents. I haven't really had anyone use the term "real parents" with me, but a lot of people use the term "natural parents" or "natural children." It's generally said when the person is trying to be correct by avoiding the term "real." For example, when people are sharing a story, they will often say that a friend had two natural children before adopting. Instead it should be that they had two biological children before adopting. One word different, but it makes a big difference.

The other term is "give up or give away for adoption." Steven's birthmother chose adoption for Steven. Yes, she did give up her rights to him, but she didn't just give him away. Steven's birthmother made a very conscious choice for him.

The opposite of this is "keeping" a child. Steven is not his birthmother's first child. It drives me crazy when people ask if she "gave the others up/away too." I always respond that she chose to parent them but chose us to parent Steven. Again, a small difference in wording but two completely different connotations.

I know that some people think that some of us just liked to get all worked up over nothing, but it really isn't nothing. I don't want Steven to hear anyone say that his birthmother gave him away or that I'm not his real mother. It's just not true.

For other adoptive parents, have you had any comments like these, and if so, how did you handle them?

I'm interested in hearing other people's thoughts and experiences, whether first hand or not, but I've also added comment moderation to my blog :)

Rebekah

Friday, November 14, 2008

Exhaustion

Many of you have noticed that I have barely been on here recently. Basically, I've been too exhausted to blog, exhausted physically, mentally, and definitely emotionally.

I started a temp. full time job two weeks ago, and I haven't worked this much in years! In addition to this Monday-Friday job, I'm still working at school on Saturdays. I'm not a morning person, and Steven and I like to sleep in in the morning (I know that'll probably be changing awfully soon), so getting up so early every day is killing me. The day I realized that Thanksgiving Day would be the next time I got to sleep in was not a happy one.

My new job is alternately interesting and tedious. Interesting combination, isn't it? Well, I am scoring the MEAP exams. MEAP stands for Michigan Educational Assessment Program, and it's the standardized test that the school kids here take. I'm grading 4th grade essays, and some of them are so funny you can't help but laugh out loud. However, more of them are sad. It's amazing what some of kids have been through in their short little lives.

Our goal is to read 200 per day. That's a lot of essays, but surprisingly, I've been right around the 200 mark this week. Some days higher, other days lower (typically depending on the cooperation level of the computer). By the time I pick Steven up after work, I'm exhausted. I've hardly even been able to check my e-mail at night, let alone post anything. As it is, I'm going to bed pretty much as soon as I finish this.

Mark and I (well, mostly me) have been busy with adoption paperwork. On Monday, I got fingerprinted. On Tuesday, we went to the ultrasound with Steven's birthmother and social worker. I drove up to Mark's office to pick him up and take him, but after I turned off my car, it wouldn't start again :( We ended up taking Mark's car to the appointment, jump starting my car when we got back to his office, and replacing the battery on the way home. I'm relieved to say that it's working just fine again.

On Wednesday, I took Josie to the vet for the first time. Her previous family took her and got her up to date on all her shots before we picked her up, so she wasn't due until later this month. She did well at the vet's, and I managed to stay awake for the visit. Her biggest news is that she has lost almost 5 pounds since we got her! The vet said she could lose a little bit more, but we're just keeping her at the same amount of food as before.

Today we went to my parents' house to celebrate Mark's birthday, and we had a nice time. His birthday was on Sunday, but my parents were out of town (my sister and their dog were here at our house for 5 days), and Mark was sick in bed the entire day. What a miserable way to spend a birthday! Tonight helped make up for it, though.

I've been calling and e-mailing our adoption agency regularly this week because we still need one document from them for Steven's adoption. Mark's employer reimburses us $5,000 per adoption, and needless to say, we desperately need the money. It's been very frustrating since all we need is their signature on a form I e-mailed them, and it's been over two weeks. I found out today, though, that the first person (out of four now!) passed away unexpectedly last week. That explains some of the delay, but each person I've talked to has said that they would take care of it right away.

Please pray that this gets done quickly. We're still paying off Steven's adoption, and now we need money for this adoption. On paper, the situation looks impossible. I'm so glad that we have a God who has promised to provide for us. God has made it very clear that he wants us to adopt Steven's sister, so I know He will provide the money. We're just praying it happens soon.

I could go on and on filling you in on adoption updates, but I think this is already long enough. The two next steps are our physicals on Tuesday and an ob appointment on Friday (I think it's Friday). That will be a significant time because it will be just Steven's birthmother and me. I'm picking her up at her house and taking her to the doctor's. It will be the first time we've spent any one-on-one time together. We've only met with her twice ever, but it feels like we've know her for years!

Please pray that I'll be able to develop a closer relationship with her and in some way, be able to share our faith with her. I did this in a letter earlier this year, but my heart is just so burdened for her. Wouldn't it be wonderful for Steven to have both his families with him in heaven for eternity?! Your family is the only thing you can take with you, and we want to bring as many with us as we can :)

Thanks for praying. I'll try to do a better job of keeping you updated in the coming weeks. At least I managed to tell you all that we're having a GIRL, right??

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's a GIRL!!!

I can't tell you how excited I am! We had such a good time at the ultrasound and talking with Steven's birthmother. I'll try to scan our pictures and post them soon!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adoption Update

Homestudy--Done yesterday!
Finger printing--Scheduled for early next week.
Critter records--Pick up Sadie's records and take Josie in for a visit on Monday.
Paperwork--Hopefully in the mail by Monday.
Ultrasound/Find out gender (hopefully!)--Tuesday.
Physicals--Nov. 18th.
Next ob appt.--Nov. 20
Approval--??
Apply like crazy for grants--As soon as approved.
C-section--Dec. 21 (tentative)